Funny how out-of-town designers get whipped into shape once they reach Paris. Rick Owenshe of the dark, Goth, crinkled layershas discovered a new, lightened-up way of expressing his aesthetic now that he's immersed himself in this city's competitive fashion culture.
Owens cited Frenchmen Rene Gruau and Jean-Paul Goude as the two main influences on his Spring collection. And, though it was hard to trace his new body-consciousness and use of color to either 1950's fashion graphics or 1980's photographic manipulation, there is a detectable change going on here. In place of unrelentingly dark floor-dragging shapes, there were short skirts with floating asymmetric trails and stretch-gauze tops wrapping the breast and torso. Even the designer's familiar shades of gray were interrupted by surprising washes of pink, peach, coral, paprika, pistachio, and aqua.
Not that Owens has abandoned the slouchy, raw-edged attitudeor the incredible washed leathersso adored by his huge band of followers. It's just that now he's added hacked-off versions of 1930's charmeuse skirts and ultra-refined whitewashed leather jackets, twisted into a tie and fastening at the neck, into his repertoirenot to mention high heels, slicked-back hair, and pink lipstick. Though he still needs to shape all that into a more concise runway statement, Owens is clearly taking this collection in the right direction.